Cristian Moreni, little known outside Italy, splashed his way into the lead in the Tour of Italy yesterday with a storming solo run through a rainstorm. He escaped in the final few miles to finish five seconds clear of his compatriot Matteo Tosatto and the Dutchman Karsten Kroon on the 140-mile stage from Terracina to Maddaloni.
It was enough to depose the overnight leader, Mario Cipollini, who finished among the chasers on a day of crashes and misfortune - notably for the race favourite, Paolo Savoldelli.
Moreni, whose only other professional win was a stage of last year's Tour of Spain, leads by three seconds from Tosatto after they were involved in a 21-man escape. Only five remained ahead as the lead topped six and a half minutes approaching Monte Taburno in rain, hail, and thunder.
Spills and punctures on the glassy descent split the field even further with Cipollini and his team captain, Savoldelli, delayed by flat tyres. Savoldelli then had to stop for a back-wheel change, adding to the bad luck he has suffered since the first day in the Vatican City. Then, he misjudged a corner at speed and had to brake, learning later he had missed victory in the prologue time trial by half a second.
On Sunday he was involved in a spill that had his team-mates working hard to recoup lost time. Yesterday he finished in the main chase, 29 seconds behind Moreni.
Today, the 110-mile third stage begins and ends in two southern coastal towns, Paestum, which is near Naples, and Scalea.Reuse content